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Santiago de Cali

Photo © Stevie_A

Travel Guide South America Colombia Santiago de Cali

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Introduction

Cali centrum

Cali centrum

© All Rights Reserved Raf-Ellen

Santiago de Cali, called Cali for short, is the third largest cities in Colombia, a great place to visit and was founded by Sebastián de Belalcázar in 1536. It is also a major industrial and commercial center in Colombia and is one of the fastest growing economic centers in Colombia. This city has many amazing sights to see such as colonial architecture, churches and modern buildings.

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History

Before the arrival of the Spanish many different native groups inhabited that areas. They built small towns and mined gold. Sebastián de Belalcázar arrived in the Americas in 1498 with Columbus on his third trip to the New World. In 1532 after serving with Darien and Nicaragua Belalcázar joined up with Francisco Pizzaro on his conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru. In 1534 Belalcázar separated from Pizarro to found the city of Quito and then on a search for El Dorado, the lost city of gold, he set off into Colombia. After battling the different tribes in the area he founded the city of Santiago De Cali on July 25, 1536.

The Belalcázar family controlled most of the commerce in the city until independence. Although the city was pretty small for most of the 17th and 18th century, even though the city was located on a strategic position connecting different economic centers. The city was a center of support for independence and was the spot for many bloody battles. In the 20th Cali started to grow into the powerhouse it is today and it 1971 the city hosted the Pan American Games.

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Sights and Activities

La Plaza De Caycedo

La Plaza De Caycedo considered the city centre. This is a large square with many historical and modern buildings located around its edges. The plaza is also near many other famous sights.

  • El Edificio Otero
  • La Catedral
  • El Palacio de Justicia
  • El Teatro Jorge Isaacs

Museums and Galleries

  • Casa de la cultura Proartes is a mansion that has influenced the arts in the city since 1871. The building was restored in 1991 and has many exhibitions areas, scenarios and a cinema.
  • Centro cultural de Cali was built in 1997 and is the cultural center in the city and headquarters for the offices of tourism and culture.
  • Museo Arqueológico La Merced is the local archeological museum and it has several pre-Colombian ceramics from southwest Colombia in its collection.
  • Museo Religioso y Colonial de San Francísco is a religious art museum with a Franciscan emphasis.
  • La Tertulia is a local art museum. This modern building, located close to the Cali River, was designed by Manuel Lago.

Other Sights and Activities

  • La Merced Church
  • La Ermita Church
  • Iglesia de San Francisco (Saint Francis Church)
  • La Colina de San Antonio and the San Antonio Church
  • El Gato de Tejada is located close to the Cali River.
  • The Cali Zoo is one of the nicest Zoos in the counrty.
  • Parque Del Perro is a great area located in the San Fernando neighborhood and has many great restaurants and bars.
  • Football (Soccer) is extremely popular in Cali. There are two different football stadiums, the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero, which is the main stadium and Estadio Deportivo Cali, which is under construction. When the second stadium opens both teams will have their own stadium to call home. Basketball is also extremely popular in Cali although there is no city team at the current time.
  • Bullfighting is held every year during the Cali Fair and is very popular with the locals
  • Cali River is a nice green area in the city with many restaurants, hotel and museums located on its banks.
  • Parks, Squares and Monuments are scattered across the city. These are great places to visit and experience local culture. One of the most famous is Cristo Rey, which is a 42-metre-high religious statue located on top of a mountain.

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Events and Festivals

  • La Feria de Cali (Cali Fair) is the largest festival held in Cali every year. This annual festival is held from December 25th to December 30th and is fun. The fair is also known as the sugar cane fair and the salsa fair. The main activities include horse parades, tascas, salsa concerts, bullfights, parades, sports competitions and cultural shows.
  • Summer Salsa Festival is held every year for one week in early July. The festival usually has concerts by the world's most popular salsa groups and dance competitions.
  • The Festival Petronio Alvarez is a popular festival dedicated to the rythms from the Pacific Coast of Colombia.
  • Rio Cali Race is two different sports events. The first is a mid-year marathon and the second is a December 10-kilometre-long race called the Carrera Del Rio Cali.

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Weather

The city is located in a valley with 2,000-metre high mountains to the north and 4,000-metre high mountains to the south, which allows the city to have a fresh cross breeze that comes from the west. This gives Cali a semi-tropical climate with variation depending on altitude in the city, with less rain fall in the higher areas. The city has a temperature range of 19 °C to 30 °C depending on the rainy season. Due to being so close to the equator the city has very little seasonal variations. Locals tend to call the dry season summer and the rainy season winter. There are two rainy seasons the first one from April to May and the second one October to November, although rain can be expected year round.

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Getting There

By Plane

Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO) also known as the Palmaseca International Airport is the second largest airport in Colombia. This airport has regular service to many cities in Central and South America plus a few cities in North America and Europe. The easiest way to get to and from the airport is by taxi.

By Bus

From the Terminal de transportes you have the choice of many different regional, national and domestic destinations.

The trip from the airport to the terminal lasts around 20 minutes and you can do it either by taxi (COP$45,000) or mini-van (COP$4,000). Recommendation: Travel only by certified transport companies, like Expreso Palmira, Bolivariano or Expreso Brasilia. These companies bring you safety and comfort for you and your luggage. You may bargain with other companies, but the trip may be very uncomfortable.

  • To/from Bogota : COP$65,000, 12 hours
  • To/from Medellin : COP$50,000, 9 hours
  • To/from Popayan : COP$12,000, 3 hours or with minibus COP$14,000, 2 hours
  • To/from Pasto : COP$40,000, 9 hours (check for safety)
  • To/from Armenia : COP$20,000, 3-3½ hours
  • To/from Pereira : COP$29,000, 4 hours
  • To/from Manizales : COP$30,000, 5 hours

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are a fast and affordable way to get around the city. Only use official cars and it is strongly recommended to call for one if possible (you may call the local numbers 444 44 44, 555 55 55, or 660 60 60 and ask for one, your name and destination will be registered in the head office). Make sure the driver starts the meter running. The meters count units, not in the local currency. The minimum fare during daytime is COP$3,700, during nighttime it's COP$4,600. 14 units equal COP$900. Do not leave your luggage inside the taxi while you are not, it sometimes happens that drivers get off as soon as you are out the taxi and your luggage is still in the trunk. In any case, many of the taxi drivers are nice and gentle people and have some good stories to tell, so hopefully you speak or understand Spanish at a reasonable level. But be sure to pay what they ask because they would call the cops and will not let you get out until you pay the full fare.

By Public Transport

There is an extensive bus network around the city that is easy to use. There is also an articulated bus network, the MIO (Masivo Integrado de Occidente) with stations distributed from North to South and integrated routes.

By Bike

There are not many bike paths, but cycling is popular and safe in the southern part of the city. Different people gather in the Ciudad Jardín area and ride their bikes to either La Buitrera or Jamundí on Tuesday & Wednesday nights and on Sunday mornings.

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Eat

  • El Teatro Mágico del Sabor creative food restaurant located in San Antonio.
  • Fritanga J&J perfect place for trying typical snacks: empanadas, rellenas, bofe. Located in San Antonio.
  • El Zaguán de San Antonio local cuisine including the famous Sancocho de Gallina, Arrroz Atollado, Champús.
  • Fausto Mar sea food from the Pacific. Located in La Luna area.

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Drink

  • Alterno Bar is more like a crossover type of bar, its pretty good and you can meet a lot of people there.
  • Blues Brothers Bar, ☎ +57 3 661 3412, e-mail: bluesbrothersbar@hotmail.com. A big and popular bar, with live music on Thursdays. Avenida 6A Norte # 21-40 Barrio Santa Mónica.
  • El Faro is the place to go if you like classic rock/heavy metal. Located in "El Limonar" A "Jirafa" (Lot of beer) is about USD3.
  • Eliptica is an outside bar settled on a hill at the outskirts of Cali. The views are beautiful and this is a good place for an after party. Open till 06:00 or till the police shut it down.
  • Fanaticos Sport's Bar at Palmetto Plaza Shopping center, where college guys and young professionals meet to watch their favourite sports games. Great beer and good prices, open every day until 03:00.
  • Forum is a popular club for electronic music with an energetic atmosphere.
  • London Tavern is busy only on a Thursday night when there is a live salsa band playing.
  • Martyn´s Bar is a classic rock bar that has been around since the early 1980s.
  • Roosters is a rock bar/pub with own micro brewery, imported beer and drinks, live rock music and major sports games on big screen - European run. Ave 6 Bis, 26N, #21. Tu-Su 18:00-02:00.

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Sleep

  • The Green Samán, Carrera 3 oeste 11-49 (Bellavista), ☎ +57 300 416 3273. Breakfast is available and is of a high standard. The hostel offers gourmet dinners (prepared by an exceptional chef), cooking lessons, traditional paella on Sundays, interesting excursions to the surroundings of Cali, bike rental, and an open bar with live music. There's a quiet garden with many colourful birds and two very friendly dogs, a nice swimming pool, a Turkish bath and a sauna. Other services include Wi-Fi, public computer, hammocks, laundry (for a small fee) and home cinema. Dorm bed: COP$18,000, double room with private bathroom from COP$60,000.
  • Casa Agua Canela, Cra 24A N°2A-55 Miraflores, ☎ +57 311 325 0578 (cel), +57 2 5 56 83 82 (House). Beautiful views over Cali from the lovely balcony if you stay on the top floor, a good location in the Miraflores area, and bright, clean, spacious rooms all come standard at Casa Agua Canela, as does friendly staff and good prices. You can cook for yourself using the equipped kitchen or ask them to prepare something tasty. Spacious, peaceful hostel with a relaxing vibe and not too many people around. You could always sleep outside on the communal balcony as there's a single bed there on the top floor if you stay up there. Big supermarket and cash point a short walk away as well as plenty of pastry shops.
  • Kaffee Erde, Avenida 4Norte #4N-79, ☎ +57 3014000914. Friendly owners who care about their guests run this great hostel close to bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. They have cheap prices but quality rooms, and offer free organic coffee and salsa lessons to their guests. They can arrange trips and tours, and the owners love to chat and share stories with the guests. A very homey, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Casa Blanca Hostel, Ave. 6bis, Calle 26N, 57, Santa Monica (One block of the famous La Sexta, 4 blocks from Super mall Chipichape), ☎ +57 2 396 38 49, e-mail: booking@casablancahostel.com. Check-in: 07:00, check-out: 11:00. Run by Danish/Colombian couple (Mike & Diana) Casa Blanca Hostel opened in August 2008 in the safe and convenient location one block of the famous La Sexta avenue. The hostel offers big well equipped self-catering kitchen and dining area. There's a large living room with 42" flat screen, cable TV package and lots of DVD's, reading section and magazines, free WiFi and guest computers, hot water showers, 24 hour reception, laundry service, airport pick-up, mini market, free parking for cars and motorcycles (indoor) and an outdoor patio. Dorms beds range from COP$15,000-20,000. Double bed private from COP$35,000-50,000 and twin bed privates from COP$35,000-55,000 (with possible 3rd bed on sofa bed).
  • The Pelican Larry Hostel, Calle 23 Norte #8N-12 Santa Monica Residencial, ☎ +57 2 396 8659, +57 315 770 6770, e-mail: gunty@pelicanlarrycali.com. BBQ, WiFi internet, beds 1x2 meters, clean and huge patio with well equipped clean kitchen, double rooms from COP$35,000. Located in what is considered to be a safe area. Two big supermarkets 10 minutes walk away. Decent gym just around the block for COP$10,000 per use. Very nice and accommodating staff. Massive shopping centre 15/20 minutes walk away called Chipichape if you're into that. Nice American/British rock bar a few blocks away if you want a break from the salsa. If not you're in walking distance from Tiendas (bar type shop things) playing salsa music or you can take a taxi or decent walk to streets with lots of clubs.
  • Iguana Hostel, Avenida 9N No. 22N-46 (Close to Avenida Sexta), ☎ +57 2 660 8937, +57 313 768 6024, e-mail: iguana_cali@yahoo.com. A welcoming hostel opened in 1998 by Swiss owner Urs Diethelm. Can get pretty full at the weekends due to travelers coming for "the Rumba". Internet, Self-catering kitchen & Cable TV. Dorm beds from COP$16,000 and single occupancy from COP$24,000.
  • The Green House, Cra. 4C Oeste #2-34, San Antonio, Cali, ☎ +57 2 487 5247, e-mail: info@thegreenhouse.com.co. Check-out: 11:00. Lovely hostel in the bohemian San Antonio neighborhood. The owner will make you feel right at home from the moment you step in. Everything is spotlessly clean and there's a kitchen for guest use. Excellent breakfast is available for COP$5.000. Also a good spot to stay if you are into adventure sports, since the owner is into BMX, kiteboarding, paragliding and similar sports and can provide you with lots of info on these activities. Dorm COP$18,000, Single COP$30,000, Double COP$40,000 (all with shared bathroom).
  • Cali Rent Apartments (Cali Rent Apartments), Calle 21N#9N- 50, Cali, Colombia (Santa Monica), e-mail: info@calirentapartments.com. Offers apartment for daily, weekly or monthly rent in Granada and Santa Monica near Chipichape mall. These are great alternatives to renting a room in a hotel and are usually cheaper and more private. US$65.
  • Cali Plaza Hotel (Cali Plaza Hotel and Apartments), Calle 15 Norte No. 6N-37 (Granada Barrio - Zona Rosa), ☎ +57 2 668 2611, e-mail: mail@caliplaza.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 13:00. American-owned hotel with apartments and 24-hour security in the heart of Cali. US$63. edit
  • Casa Santa Monica (Casa Santa Monica), Calle 23N 8N-34 (Santa Monica), ☎ +57 2 6685180, fax: +57 2 6686135, e-mail: ventas@casasantamonicacali.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 15:00. A three houses complex with 23 rooms total near by Granada, Chipichape and 20 minutes away from international airport. US$75 US.
  • Cali Flats (Cali Flats), Ave 6 bis, 26N, #57 (Santa Monica), ☎ +57 2 396 38 49, fax: +57 2 668 99 86, e-mail: booking@califlats.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 13:00. Fully furnished apartments in nice 10 floor building. Internet access, Cable TV, fully equipped kitchen, dining area, bath with hot water, 24-hour reception, secure parking basement, access to Gym, Turkish bath and Sauna on 10th floor US$50.
  • Hotel Astoria Real, Calle 11 No. 5-16, Plaza de Caicedo, ☎ +57 2 883-0140. A historic hotel overlooking Caicedo Square. Most rooms have a balcony. Aging, but affordable and safe. Centrally located. Hot water, cable TV. Single rooms for COP$45,000.
  • Cali Charm Bed & Breakfast, Calle 38 Norte # 4N-23. Located in one of the best parts of Cali, La Flora. Four blocks from Chipichape mall and 5 minutes from Avenida Sexta and Menga Night Life. The Cali Charm House has been remodeled to Western standard and it's very affordable. edit
  • Hotel Dann Carlton (One block from the Hotel Intercontinental). Excellent too.
  • Hotel Plaza, Carrera 6a No. 10-29, Plaza de Caicedo, ☎ +57 2 882-2560. A modern hotel centrally located. Hot water, cable TV, carpeted rooms. Single room COP$40,000.
  • Apartahotel Colombia, Calle 31 N # 2Bis -48 (1 block away from The Terminal de Transportes), ☎ +57 2 11572-6608081, e-mail: administracion@apartahotelcolombia.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 15:00. Internet cafe, Wi-Fi, security surveillance cameras, hot water, restaurant, steam room, elevator, cable TV, room service. COP$55,000.
  • Cali Apartment, Chipichape Mall Area. Offers two fully furnished bedrooms and complimentary Wifi internet + Cable TV. They also give you a local mobile phone (that you can put credit on) which is very handy. Rates start at US$450/week with discounts for longer stays.
  • Hotel Four Points by Sheraton, Calle 18N # 4N-08. Member of the Sheraton Hotels. Five-star.
  • Hotel Intercontinental. Excellent place to stay. Five stars. Safe and good location
  • Hotel Astoria Real, Calle 11 No. 5-16, Plaza de Caicedo, ☎ +57 2 883-0140. A historic hotel overlooking Caicedo Square. Most rooms have a balcony. Aging, but affordable and safe. Centrally located. Hot water, cable TV, Wi-Fi. Single rooms for COP$45,000.
  • Hotel Plaza, Carrera 6a No. 10-29, Plaza de Caicedo, ☎ +57 2 882-2560. A modern hotel centrally located. Hot water, cable TV, carpeted rooms. Single room COP$40,000.
  • NOW (Boutique Hotel), Avenida 9AN No. 10N-74 (Granada), ☎ +57 2 488 9797. Fancy and modern. The bar by the roofpool has one of the greatest views of town.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are easy to find in any city or town. Expect rates to run about $1,250-2,500 (around $US 0.50-1.00) per hour, depending on how much competition there is (i.e., cheap in Bogotá, expensive in the middle of nowhere). Quality of connections varies enormous and tends to better in populated places and tourist areas. Wifi is getting more and more popular in some hotels, restaurants and bars, but don't count on it and be careful regarding your privacy.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Colombia is: 57. To make an international call from Colombia, the code is: 005.

Using your own phone and SIM card is expensive so if you are planning to do quite a few calls, buy a phone or just a SIM card. It's simple enough to get a SIM card and even an unlocked phone at the international airport in Bogotá, although there is, of course, a price hike. They're not hard to find in any city either, just ask your hotel or hostel staff where to go. Topping up is also easy, and can be done pretty much on any street corner. The carriers you'll most likely see are Claro, Tigo, and Movistar. Claro is the most expensive (by a little bit), but has the widest coverage in the country, if you expect to get off the beaten path.

Post

4-72 is the unusual name of Colombia's postal service. They have post offices throughout the country, which are open usually from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday mornings as well. That doesn't apply to all offices though, only the larger ones in the big cities. But for example along the Caribbean coast, offices tend to close between noon and 2:00pm. But even at the ones that are officially open all day long, it might be difficult to get anything done during those hours. For domestic services, sending letters and postcards is mostly reliable but takes days, for international services don't hold your breath. Eventually, a postcard or letter might arrive in the country of destination but it's almost not worth it. For parcels, you are better off using companies like FedEx, TNT, DHL or UPS.

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This is version 22. Last edited at 11:04 on Feb 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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